Most of us get headaches from time to time, but figuring out why we’re suffering or how to get rid of them isn’t always easy. Headaches are common, but they are not normal! Pain is simply a signal from your body, indicating that something is wrong.
Feeling good is the normal state. Your headache pain, whether dull, sharp or throbbing, is like an unwanted pest, causing you to suffer and stealing your valuable time and energy.
Thanks to those clever headache pain-relief commercials, medicine cabinets, purses and glove boxes all over the country are stocked full with medication for the ‘normal’ headache. Billions of dollars are spent yearly to convince you to take medications with what may only be temporary relief yet may also cause potentially serious side effects.
If you are one of the millions of Australians who suffer from mind-numbing headaches wishing, hoping and praying your headaches will disappear, then just keep reading because you are about to discover that reducing or even eliminating your headaches can be more than just a dream!
But why is there such a lack of understanding as to what causes headaches and how to effectively eliminate them? Why do so many Australians suffer day in and day out when most of them really don’t have to?
We decided to step forward and write this series of informative articles because we want to share our understanding of the causes of headaches and how many people can effectively eliminate them. So please, for your own sake, carefully read every word of these articles… They may well contain one of the most important messages you will ever hear!
What is known about the cause of headaches
The cause of headaches has been debated for years. What is known is that “Every function of the human body is under the control of the nervous system”. [Grey's Anatomy]. The brain is directly connected to nearly every cell, tissue, organ and system of the body by nerves. Different nerves monitor and control specific areas of the body. When a nerve has been chemically irritated by inflammation, stretched as in skeletal or muscle imbalances, or when abnormal pressure has been applied to it from joint misalignment, disc abnormalities, or swollen tissues, it causes interruption to proper nerve function, otherwise known as Nerve Interference.
The resulting symptoms can be felt in a specific spot or within the complete area controlled by that nerve. Nerves are most often irritated at the site where they exit between the vertebra of the spinal column because of the motion that occurs there and the close proximity of related structures (bones, joints, discs, ligaments, tendons and muscles). Nerve Interference often causes nerve hypersensitivity and is responsible for the most common headache symptoms. This Nerve Interference can cause abnormal sensations such as pain, numbness, tingling, muscle spasm or weakness.
The increase or decrease of blood supply to the brain has often been cited as the cause of headaches, especially migraine. Therefore, many drugs are designed to artificially control that blood flow. Often this increase or decrease of blood to the brain is merely a symptom of imbalance or dysfunction, the cause of which is nerve interference and can often be identified and corrected.
In addition, nutritional deficiencies and other chemical imbalances are often overlooked yet these factors can also be a major cause of headaches.
A new discovery about the cause of most headaches
Most headaches can be classified as either
- Tension or
Of these the majority of headache sufferers get tension-type headaches.
Cervicogenic headache is a common tension-type headache, which comes from problems in the neck and often goes undiagnosed due to the relative newness of this classification. Even so, it is now becoming better documented in the medical literature.
Migraines are often triggered by tension or stress, which negatively impacts the nervous system.
Relief and often resolution of the above two types of headaches can often be available without the use of medications or surgery.
Dr Dennis Dobritt states that headaches are “frequently disabling. Five to ten percent of young adults report missing at least part of a day’s work each month… 90% of all headaches are classified as muscle tension headaches… 6% are migrainous or a variant of migraine headaches while the remainder fall into the mixed or rare categories”.
It is only very recently that mainstream medicine could accept the idea that headaches can result from cervical dysfunction. Dr. Nikolai Bogduk, professor of anatomy at the University of Newcastle, Australia, recently stated: “The people in control of the headache field seemingly have not, cannot or will not recognise this paradox… that the model for cervicogenic headache is not only the best evolved of all headaches but is testable in vivo, in patients with headache complaints. No other form of headache has that facility”.
Peter Rothbart, a Canadian anesthesiologist, came to a similar conclusion about cervicogenic headache. Dr. Rothbart wrote an article in the Toronto Star titled “A Pain In The Neck” and subtitled “Chiropractors were right”. In this article he stated, “Many headaches are caused by damaged structures in the neck- and scientific evidence proves it”.
The article explained that years ago, French medical professor Robert Maigne “came to believe that many headaches originated with a structural problem in the neck”. ‘He was thought to be a lunatic’, said Dr Rothbart. However, other clinicians and scientists have taken up Dr Miagne’s work. As recently as 1995 a team of physicians at Syracuse University concluded neck problems to be the cause of many headaches “with scientific anatomical proof”. Dr Rothbart called the Syracuse results “a minor miracle”.
In the Toronto Star article, Dr. Rothbart stated “Some brilliant people have [previously] put their hearts, souls and minds to this [headache] problem and haven’t come up with anything. All we’ve been able to do is treat people with an array of medicines, one after the other, and hope the side effects won’t be too bad. We couldn’t believe it at first. We’ve [now] been able to put together a scientific explanation for how neck structure causes headaches- not all headaches, but a significant number of them. It’s true that chiropractors have been saying this for years. Unfortunately, many [medical] doctors tend to have a jaundiced view of chiropractors, but they were right about headaches”
Headaches are more than just a pain!
Further aggravating the plight of the headache sufferer is the personal cost of being perceived as weak, a malingerer, a hypochondriac, or simply someone who is unproductive. Children may miss school, fall behind, be teased, ostracised and develop low self-esteem. Adults have friends and family who often don’t understand what the headache sufferer goes through.
In future articles, we will describe the 6 myths and misconceptions about headache relief: starting with the myth that states “Headache Medications treat the cause of headaches“:stayed tuned!
Jason Barritt, B.Sc. (Hons), D.C.
Dobritt, Dr. Dennis, Director, Providence Pain Clinic Department of Anesthesia, Providence Hospital, Southfield MI. “Neural Blockade for the Treatment of Muscle Tension and Cervicogenic Headaches”
Rothbart, Peter “A Pain in the Neck”, The Toronto Star, December 1995